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Keywords:

  • fertility intentions;
  • lowest-low fertility;
  • Eastern Ukraine;
  • Stakhanov;
  • environmental pollution

Abstract

The influence of perceived macro-level constraints on childbearing on women's fertility decision-making on the micro level was analysed in Stakhanov, a city with a shrinking population in Eastern Ukraine. The perceived macro-level constraints employed in the study were related to childcare arrangements, value changes regarding family formation, and pollution of the environment and health concerns. To study the influence of those constraints, logistic regression analyses were conducted whereby first-birth and second-birth intentions were analysed separately. None of the constraints influenced childless women's first-birth intentions. Instead, sociodemographic factors such as age and civil status appeared as significant predictors. That none of the constraints influenced childless women's fertility intentions is interpreted to be an indicator of the strong norm of having at least one child in Ukraine.

For women with one child, the fact that pollution of the environment and health concerns connected to childbirth were perceived as a constraint on childbearing at the national level was significantly associated with lower second-birth intentions. Women in Ukraine seem to perceive environmental pollution as a constraint on their fertility, possibly influenced by public discourse related to the health consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Moreover, the inhabitants of Stakhanov itself have experienced environmental pollution at close range. Those factors together could explain why environmental pollution and poor health were seen as constraints on childbearing at the national level, and the negative influence these had on second-birth intentions.

It is argued that environmental pollution should be considered a factor influencing fertility decision-making. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.